You are on page 1of 14


Leif Idar Langelandsvik

, Willy Postvoll
, Britt Aarhus
, Kristin Kinn Kaste

1. Gassco AS

Keywords: 1. natural gas; 2. pipeline capacity; 3. friction; 4. ambient temperature, 5. operational data

1 Abstract
Gassco is the operator of the largest sub-sea transportation system for natural gas in the world. This
implies selling transport capacity to shippers of natural gas. Once a pipeline is built, the physical capacity is
determined by boundary conditions such as available inlet and outlet pressure. In order to achieve optimal
utilization of the pipelines and hence optimal return of invested capital, it is of great importance to calculate
this capacity as accurately as possible. Failing to meet booked capacities will result in penalties and poorer
reputation while under estimation of the capacity can possibly trigger too early investments in new
infrastructure. Both situations are strongly unwanted. Gassco has therefore developed a well proven
methodology for transport capacity calculation, which will be elaborated in this paper.
Over the last years Gassco has improved the former approach of capacity calculation, namely a
capacity test. This improvement has involved further development of the models, particularly by means of
heat transfer, which now makes the models more accurate than before and even better suited to calculate
transport capacity. Incorporation of real-time modelled sea-bottom temperatures from the UK Meteorological
Shelf-seas model provides the models with the best available now-casts and two-day-forecasts of the sea-
bottom temperature across most of the North Sea. Better estimates of actual sea-bottom temperatures on
certain days in the past combined with short-term forecasts updated every day reduce margins and utilize
day-to-day variations in capacity induced by the ambient temperature. Eventually instead of using one single
capacity-test point, Gassco has now extended this methodology to make use of steady-state operational
data periods in the past, which one-by-one is treated like a capacity test. The results are then averaged to
reduce the random error uncertainty in the estimate.
Basically these measures have increased the accuracy of the transport capacity calculations. It is
however also seen that the result is increased transport capacity which can be sold to the shippers.
Altogether the methodology outlined in this paper probably represents the best practice in gas industry with
respect to transport capacity calculation. The benefit is increased capacity and consequently flexibility for the
shippers, increased income for the infrastructure owners and reduced unit tariff for the shippers.
2 Introduction/Background
Natural gas plays an important role in the energy supply of Europe and the world. Natural gas
accounts for almost a quarter of worlds energy consumption. According to energy statistics from, total world production in 2008 was 3,065 billion cubic meters, i.e. 3.110
, of which
Norway contributed 3.2% (99.2 billion Sm
). Natural gas is mainly transported in pipelines, either onshore or
The Norwegian gas transportation system is illustrated in Figure 1 and consists of 7,800 km of
pipelines, processing plants, riser platforms and receiving terminals, yielding a very complex network which
is the largest offshore transportation system in the world. United Kingdom and continental Europe are
supplied through seven large diameter subsea pipelines covering around 15% of the European natural gas
consumption. The export pipelines are between 500 and 800 km long with a typical inner diameter of 1 m.
Security of supply for the customers requires reliable and optimal operation of the transport system.

Figure 1 Overview of the transportation system operated by Gassco.
After a reorganization of the infrastructure on the Norwegian Continental Shelf in 2001, the state-
owned company Gassco was appointed the operator of the transportation system. The ownership of the
infrastructure is organized in a joint-venture, Gassled, where the different companies interest is determined
based on their historical investments. Gassco is thus responsible for redelivering the requested amount of
gas at the different exit points. The shippers have a certain capacity right, a booked capacity, at each exit
point. They can then nominate up to this amount of gas at each exit point, as long as they make the same
amount of gas available at an entry point. The shipper may be a producer of gas, or it may have purchased
the gas upstream the entry point. The capacity is sold as non-interruptable.
Transportation capacity is made available for shippers in dedicated booking rounds, where capacity
can be booked on long-term, medium-term or short-term. This will be elaborated later. The unit price of
capacity is fixed and regulated by Norwegian government. All the capacity is sold at nearly all exit points,
even though it is only fully exploited perhaps a few weeks during a year.
High accuracy in the pipeline transport capacity calculations is of crucial importance in order to
ensure optimal utilization of invested capital in the pipeline infrastructure. One wants the calculations to be
as close to, but not larger than, the true capacity as possible. This will ensure optimal utilization of invested
capital. As soon as a pipeline is built, the true capacity is determined by the diameter, length, available inlet
compression, minimum delivery pressure and other physical parameters. In Gassco it is the job of scientists
to estimate this figure exactly before the commercial department sells the capacity to the shippers. This
paper explains the elaborate process used by Gassco to calculate an exact hydraulic capacity. A process
that leads to a very accurate hydraulic capacity, and which has been used with great success.
The Gassco operated pipelines are often single-leg with one supply point and one delivery point.
Since the pipelines are sub-sea, instrumentation is also only found at the inlet and outlet. The methodology
is therefore most elaborate for this kind of pipeline. Nonetheless, it also covers pipelines with branches.
a. Capacity Definitions
Gassco uses several definitions for pipeline transport capacity. The hydraulic capacity is the
calculated maximum physical throughput using maximum inlet pressure and minimum outlet pressure.
Available Technical Capacity accounts for limitations in system boundary conditions, eg. caused by limited
inlet pressure due to dependency with other pipelines. A fuel factor is also deducted to account for metering
errors and fuel gas consumption in either compressors or heating stations. The committable capacity is the
capacity that is available for stable deliveries. An operational flexibility (opflex) of 1 or 2 % is usually
deducted from the available technical capacity to ensure that small operational disturbances do not lead to
loss of delivered gas. Gassco has the mandate to hold back capacity for certain periods. When this hold
back is deducted, the bookable capacity is obtained. This is the capacity that is offered to the shippers.
b. Pipeline Simulators
The transport capacity of Gassco operated pipelines is calculated by using computer simulation
models. A detailed model of the pipeline is implemented in a commercially available simulation software. The
methodology described in this paper is independent of the chosen software, and should work equally well
with most available pipeline simulation software packages. Great care is taken to ensure that all pipeline
parameters such as pipeline length, diameter, thickness of different wall layers, elevation profile and burial
depth on the sea bed are correct. After the pipeline is installed, the design data is combined with survey data
to obtain the best possible data.
The simulation software uses the Benedict-Webb-Ruben-Starling (BWRS) equation of state. Great
effort has been put into tuning the coefficients to ensure it predicts the density of typical North Sea gases
well. The predictive power of the viscosity correlation Lee-Gonzalez-Eakin (LGE) has also been analyzed.
The correlation has a simple structure which makes it attractive for use in real-time systems. And it has also
proved to predict viscosity for natural gas mixtures well. Gassco has initiated a measurement series of
viscosity, and has also proposed a new set of coefficients for the LGE-correlation based on these
The heat transfer model is important in order to simulate the gas temperature correctly. This will be
discussed later in the paper.
All pipeline simulators use a friction factor correlation which takes wall roughness as input, and
calculates the friction factor which gives the wall friction in the model. One of the main uncertainties when
modelling pipeline flow, is which roughness factor to use and how the friction shall be calculated based on it.
This is also discussed below.
c. Instrumentation
In order to achieve the desired accuracy of the transport capacity calculations, Gassco has put a lot
of effort into the instrumentation of the pipelines. All pipelines are equipped with state-of-the-art flow meters
and pressure transmitters at all supply and delivery points. The pressure transmitters usually have an
absolute uncertainty of 52 mBar within a range of 0-200 barg or 0-400 barg depending on the application.
The flow meters are either qualified as fiscal or have a similar uncertainty. Usually they are ultrasound
metering stations with an uncertainty of 0.5-0.8 %. Both pressure transmitters and flow meters are calibrated
sufficiently often to maintain this uncertainty level over time.
Temperature transmitters and gas chromatographs are not that important for the capacity
calculations, but the quality is still very good. The temperature elements are mounted in the gas and close to
the real gas flow, and yet keeping the pipelines pigable without damaging the elements. Skin temperature
meters are not used as boundary conditions for the models.
3 Capacity Calculation Methodology
When a new pipeline is planned, it is designed to meet a transport capacity need. This means that
after finding the optimal route from the supply point to the delivery point and the length of this route, the
diameter is chosen such that the requested capacity is obtained. This is performed using a pipeline simulator
with all design data as input, a slightly conservative ambient temperature estimate and the standard
Colebrook-White friction factor correlation with design roughness of 5 micron. Flow coated inner walls is
assumed. Originally Gassco, and the previous operators of the transportation system, used 10 micron as the
design roughness. Studies however revealed that 5 micron is closer to the true value, and still on the
conservative side. The design capacity is used in the first booking rounds for a new pipeline.
After the pipeline has commenced operation a capacity test is performed to find the hydraulic
roughness in a real test of the pipeline, which is elaborated below.
Over the last years the capacity calculation methodology employed by Gassco has been improved in
several ways. The two major improvements are use of historical operational data periods to improve the
accuracy even more and the use of up-to-date ambient sea bottom temperatures from a real time model run
by the UK Meteorological Office. These improvements are described below.
First of all in this section, some introductory information about wall friction and pressure drop in
pipelines is given.
a. Friction factor and roughness
The set of equations describing flow of natural gas in a pipeline can be used to show that the main
resistance to flow in a pipeline is friction against the wall. Almost all the pressure drop is therefore used to
overcome frictional forces. Getting the frictional forces correct is hence very important in getting the pressure
drop versus flow rate and transport capacity correct.
For decades the Colebrook-White correlation (see Colebrook (1939)) has been widely accepted
more or less as an industry standard in calculating the friction factor (f) based on roughness (, often
denoted hydraulic roughness), Reynolds number (Re, turbulence intensity) and inner diameter (D). Moody
plotted the correlation in a semi-logarithmic diagram, known as Moody-diagram, which made it easily
accessible without much computation (see Figure 4).

+ =
D f f 7 . 3 Re
51 . 2
log 2

Eq. 1

Experiments have however shown that different surfaces give different friction factor characteristics.
This is particularly valid for the transition region, where the flow changes from smooth turbulent to fully rough
turbulent. None has succeeded in explaining why the different surfaces give exactly the friction factor
characteristics they give, or predicting friction factor based on measurements of the physical wall surface.
Even if accepting the Colebrook-White correlation as the valid one, it remains to find the hydraulic
roughness (). This can differ significantly from the physically measured wall roughness. Research has
proposed to set hydraulic roughness equal 1.5-5 times the measured wall roughness (see e.g.
Langelandsvik et al. (2008) and Shockling et al. (2006)). The physical roughness height in commercial steel
pipes is very low. Gassco has measured it to be in the range of 2 to 5 micron. When scanned by a human
finger most observers would characterize this as perfectly smooth. However, at high enough Reynolds
numbers, the laminar sublayer next to the wall diminishes making the roughness elements protrude through
this layer and into the turbulence and adding resistance, which is what defines the transition region.
The uncertainty associated with a priori calculation of wall friction and pressure drop in a pipeline
makes it necessary to have the friction or roughness tuned in a full-scale test in either way. The methods
employed by Gassco are described below.
b. Capacity Test
When the pipeline is installed more accurate as-laid data with respect to length, wall layer
thicknesses and burial depths are available and these data are used to update the computer simulator.
Shortly after start-up a so-called capacity test is performed. Particular care is taken by all supply and delivery
points to operate the pipeline very steady for a period of 1-5 days. The best period of approximately 12 hours
duration is chosen as the official test period, and assumed to represent a steady-state condition in the
For a single-leg pipeline the hydraulic roughness is mainly a function of the following parameters
( ) C T T Q P P f
ambient in out in
, , , , , =
Eq. 2
where P denotes the pressure, Q is the standard volumetric flow rate, T is the temperature and C is
the gas composition.
The averaged boundary pressures from the test period are used as boundary conditions in a steady-
state simulation. The hydraulic roughness can be determined through iterative model simulations where the
roughness is adjusted until the simulated flow rate equals the weighted average of the measured flow rates
from the test period. The resulting hydraulic roughness is then said to be this pipelines hydraulic roughness.
The procedure is illustrated in the figure below.

Figure 2 Illustration of capacity test methodology.
The other parameter that can be used to check if the model is a good representation of the physical
pipeline is the simulated outlet temperature versus the measured one. A deviation can have three different
causes. First is obviously the ambient temperature used in the model. If this deviates from the actual
temperature at the time of the test, it will usually result in a different modeled temperature. Second are the
pipeline parameters like wall data and burial depth. The modeled heat transfer and subsequently the
temperature will be affected if these parameters are incorrect in the model. Last come the equations in the
simulator software. If they fail to model the heat transfer between the surroundings and the gas, the joule-
thompson cooling or the frictional heating effect correctly, the temperature will be affected. And an inaccurate
simulated gas temperature along (parts) of the pipeline will affect the calculated hydraulic roughness. Care
must therefore be taken to reduce the possible deviation between simulated and measured outlet
temperature. Gassco has checked the equations in the simulator, so focus is on the two first causes when
we see a temperature deviation in a capacity test.
The capacity test is often performed at flow rates significantly lower than the maximum capacity, due
to limited amount of gas available early in a pipelines lifetime. The simulator is hence used to calculate the
hydraulic capacity by using maximum inlet pressure and minimum outlet pressure. This implies extrapolating

Ambient temperature


Flow rate
Flow rate
the friction factor along the specific Colebrook-White line for this roughness in the Moody diagram to find the
friction factor at maximum capacity. It hence relies on the accuracy of the Colebrook-White correlation, and
will be further described in a later section.
Network with several supply and delivery points
The method for estimating the effective roughness for a pipeline network is more complicated than
for a single pipeline. Figure 3 shows a schematic example of a pipeline network which consists of a main
pipeline and three branches. The tie-in points are denoted A, B and C. A compressor, K, is also represented.
The main pipeline and the branches may have different physical properties like diameter, physical roughness

Figure 3 Example of a pipeline network.
As shown in Figure, the network can be considered as a connection of the following single-leg
Table 1: Network elements in the example network of Figure 3.
From To Color in Figure 3
Inlet-1 A Pink
Inlet-2 A Blue
A B Red
Inlet-3 B Black
B K Yellow
K C Gray
C Outlet1 Green
C Outlet2 Brown

If measurements are available at the tie-in points A and B as well as upstream and downstream the
compressor, an effective roughness can be determined for each single-leg that constitutes the network.
The methodology is then similar to the one described above.
When there are no pressure instruments at the tie-in points, the single-leg tuning approach is
impossible. The following parameters are then necessary in order to determine the effective roughness in the
different parts of the network:
Pressure at the network inlets: P
, where i = inlet number 1,2,,n

Pressure at the outlets: P
where j = outlet number 1,2,,n

Flow rate at the inlets: Q

Flow rate at the outlets: Q

Temperature at the inlets: T

K Inlet 1
Inlet 2
Inlet 3
Outlet 1
K 1
Ambient temperature along the pipeline: T
Composition at the inlets: C

In other words,

) , , , , , , (
, , , , , , i in ambient i in j out i in j out i in
C T T P P Q Q f =
Eq. 3
The boundary conditions that are recommended to use in the model simulations when the effective
roughness is adjusted are shown in Table 2.
Table 2: Boundary conditions to use in the simulations.
Description Symbol
Flow rate at the inlets Q

Outlet pressures P

Ambient temperature T

Temperature at the inlets T

Gas composition at the inlets C

To achieve a steady state solution, the model needs either pressure or flow at each inlet and outlet,
where the pressure has to be provided for at least one inlet/outlet. The other pressure and flow
measurements are redundant. The boundary conditions selected in Table 2 represent what is usually chosen
in a capacity study. Other boundary conditions would have worked equally well. Each redundant
measurement can be used to tune one parameter, usually one effective roughness.
To match the test data measurements from the capacity test, it is necessary to perform iterative
simulations to find the matching simulation parameters shown in Table 3.
Table 3: Simulation output parameters.
Description Symbol
Pressure at all inlets P

Flow at (n
-1) outlets F

The flow at the last outlet is determined by the flow at the other inlets and outlets, keeping in mind
that at steady-state the total inlet flow must equal the total outlet flow.
Lack of knowledge on the real system (burial depth, ambient temperature, material etc.) might result
in poor outlet temperature predictions. Nevertheless, the simulated outlet temperature must be checked
against specified pipeline temperatures to ensure that the simulated gas transport scenarios give acceptable
For pipelines without compressors, the effective roughness of the leg considered to be the main
pipeline in the network is found when the simulated and measured pressures at the main pipeline inlet are
the same. This leg should be tuned before starting with the branches. In Figure 3, the main pipeline will be
the pipeline running from Inlet 1 to Outlet 1.
When the effective roughness is determined for the main pipeline, the simulation also gives the
pressures at the tie-in points. Possible deviations between the simulated and the real tie-in point pressures
(which are not measured) will obviously not be detected.
To match the test data measurements at the other branches, it is necessary to perform iterative
simulations for each branch to match the simulated and measured inlet pressures.
Two methods of matching the pressure measurements at the branches are given in prioritized order
1. Tune separate effective roughness for each branch connected to the main pipeline.
2. Use a chosen effective roughness for each branch and tune a flow resistance element at the
end of each branch. The modelled resistance coefficient must be tuned to match the desired
pressure drop.
For both alternatives an iteration process is necessary to match the measurements. In case of
relatively short branches with low flow rates, the adoption of the second approach may become necessary
since very large changes in roughness are needed to achieve the desired flow resistance in the branch
pipeline at low flow rates.
Often the most important aim of a capacity test is to estimate the roughness of the main pipeline, and
subsequently find the capacity of the main pipeline, i.e., the output capacity.
Steady-state flow weighing
In a steady-state simulation, the sum of flow into the network needs to equal the sum of the flow out
of the network. This is not necessarily the case for the real pipeline during the capacity test, either due to
small remaining transients or due to metering errors. The flow rate that shall be obtained in the steady-state
simulation is calculated by weighing the different metered flow rates. For a single-leg pipeline this means
flow rate is calculated by:
out in mean
Q w Q w Q + = ) 1 (
Eq. 4
where the weight w is calculated based on the flow meters uncertainties to minimize the uncertainty
in Q
. It can be shown that this is obtained by selecting:
2 2
out in
u u
= Eq. 5
where u denotes the uncertainty.
For a pipeline network with several supply points and/or several delivery points the calculation is
similar, though a bit more complex.
c. Operational Data
The two major drawbacks with the capacity test approach described above are that it relies on one
testing point and that it often is performed at a low flow rate and therefore relies on extrapolation of the
friction factor along a Colebrook-White curve. The approach described here adds useful knowledge about
the pipeline and its capacity in addition to that obtained from a capacity test.
Uncertainty analysis quantifies the capacity calculation uncertainty from a capacity test. This
uncertainty comprises both systematic error and random error. The categorization of systematic and random
error is often difficult, and one usually only obtain a vague idea of their relative contribution to the total
uncertainty figure. It is well known that the random error can be minimized and eventually be made neglible if
more testing points are averaged to find a pipelines hydraulic roughness. Gasscos capacity calculation
methodology has therefore been extended to average a set of steady-state period data points to calculate
the hydraulic roughness. And instead of organizing an elaborate capacity test to obtain every single data
point, a data base of historical operational data for the pipeline is used. This data base contains logged data
from all pressure and temperature transmitters, gas chromatographs, flow meters and other instruments
connected to the pipeline. All data are usually logged with intervals of approximately 1 minute. This data
base is searched to find good steady-state operational periods which have occurred arbitrarily in the daily
operation of the pipeline. A certain set of criteria has been developed for the periods to qualify as a steady-
state period. Each of these periods is then treated exactly like a capacity test period, and have a roughness
The Colebrook-White friction factor correlation has been accepted as an industry standard for
decades, even though many research groups have proved it to be wrong in their specific tests. The reason it
is still well accepted is that none has succeeded in explaining why the Colebrook-White correlation fit or does
not fit to their experiments and how different wall surface structures lead to different transition regions (see
e.g. results from American Gas Association in the 1960s in Uhl et al. (1965) and more recent experiments in
Superpipe at Princeton University by Shockling et al. (2006)). The uncertainty associated with extrapolating
along a Colebrook-White curve can be almost entirely removed by selecting steady-state periods with high
flow rates. Therefore only steady-state periods with a flow rate of more than approximately 80% of the
pipelines expected capacity are used when averaging the hydraulic roughness. Most of the Gassco
operated pipelines are in the early phase of the transition region from smooth turbulent flow to fully rough
turbulent flow, where Colebrook-White is mostly questioned. Evaluating only steady-state periods with high
flow rates makes this uncertainty neglible.
Figure 4 shows steady-state periods that have been collected and simulated for one specific export
pipeline, denoted pipeline A. We see that all the data points have a roughness in the range of 1.5 to 3.0
micron. The average roughness of the data points with highest Reynolds number seems to be approximately
2.2 micron. Imagine the encircled data point which have a roughness close to 3 micron was a capacity-test
data point. Extrapolating along the corresponding Colebrook-White curve would have yielded a too large
friction factor (marked with red unfilled circle) at maximum capacity and thus predicting a too low capacity.
The red filled circle illustrates the recommended friction factor based on averaging steady-state operational
data periods. Vice verca would a low capacity test result over predict capacity and result in over booking.
This illustrates the reduced uncertainty that is gained by averaging a set of high-flow data points, even
though this example shows data points that do not deviate a lot from the Colebrook-White trends.
One can also obtain an experimental friction factor curve for the pipeline in question by fitting a line
to the plotted friction factors from the steady-state periods. For a limited range of Reynolds number, e.g.
between 10 and 4010
, which is the operating range for pipeline A and most others Gassco operated
pipelines, it is usually sufficient to use a straight line. Regression analysis can be used to find the line. For
pipeline A such a line would be quite parallel to the Colebrook-White lines. If the steady-state periods do not
cover flow rates close to the maximum flow rate, even extrapolation along a fitted pipeline specific friction
factor curve would imply uncertainty, since one cannot predict the behaviour of the friction factor for larger
flow rates.
The physical roughness for pipeline 1 has not been measured. But based on measurements on other
pipelines which have been manufactured according to the same specifications, it is believed that the root
mean square roughness is around 2-3 micron. This is about the same value as the hydraulic roughness
estimated to be 2.2 micron in this case. This unexpected low hydraulic roughness may indicate that the
friction factor characteristics will deviate from the Colebrook-White lines for larger Reynolds numbers. This is
discussed in more detail in Langelandsvik (2008).

Friction factor results, Zeepipe
10 000 000 100 000 000
Reynolds number, Re [-]


0.01 micron 1.3 micron
2 micron 3 micron
5 micron test points

Figure 4 Moody-diagram where the lines are given by the Colebrook-white correlation for different relative
roughnesses. Data points from simulation of steady-state periods for the export pipeline A.
In a capacity test, the instruments are usually calibrated beforehand, and special effort is taken by
the field and plant operators to ensure steady-state conditions in the pipeline during the test. In operational
steady-state periods none of these keys to success are present. But despite this, the benefits of the new
approach more than outweigh these drawbacks.
The increased accuracy and reduced margins have lead to an increase in calculated transport
capacity of in total 4.6 MSm3/d for five export pipelines. It should be noted that one pipeline contributes 2.7
/d to this number. The basis for this pipelines capacity was design capacity and not capacity test
capacity as for the other pipelines, ie. the capacity was even more conservative before the application of the
described methodology.
Requirements for steady-state periods
It is important that the operational period is a good steady-state representation of the pipeline for the
given flow rate. The steady-state periods are therefore found in a two-step procedure. The database that
contains the operational data provides a powerful search tool, which can suggest a set of steady-state
periods based on criteria set by the user. But every single period is also checked visually by Gasscos
Possible capacity test
point giving a
conservative capacity
Recommended friction
at maximum capacity
based on steady-state
operational data
Recommended friction
at maximum capacity
based on possible
capacity test point
Friction factor results, pipeline A
engineers to reveal if any unstability is present before or in the period.The set of steady-state criteria that has
been developed is shown below.
Table 4 Criteria for steady-state periods.
Topic Requirements
Absence of
12 hours prior to the test period
Period of
Preferably 24 hours, but at least 12 hours
Two steady-state periods should not be too close in time. If the pressures or flow
rates have changed it is ok to have a short time spacing, otherwise at least 1
week shall be used.
Average growth rate less than 5% of the flow rate per day.
Standard deviation of no more than 2 % of the average value
No step in the trend
Temperature As stable as possible, at least no large transients should be present
Average growth rate less than 3 barg/d
Standard deviation of no more than 2 % of the average value
No step in the trend
Composition Stability within one standard deviation (uncertainty for the gas chromatograph).
Packing A maximum average rate of packing or de-packing of 0.2 MSm

The criteria are based partly on experience, and partly on results from a certain pipeline which
showed that the variation in hydraulic roughness suddenly increased when including slightly poorer steady-
state periods.
4 Ambient Temperature
The importance of simulating a correct gas temperature profile along the pipeline in order to
calculate the correct hydraulic roughness was slightly touched upon above. And having a good estimate of
the ambient temperature at the time of the steady-state period is clearly a condition in simulating a correct
temperature profile. But getting a correct hydraulic roughness for the pipeline is only half-way in the capacity
calculation. To utilize this information one also needs to know the expected ambient temperature at the time
the calculated capacity shall be valid for.
Near-real-time seawater temperatures along pipelines may be obtained from the use of numerical
ocean models. A total of more than 50 ocean circulation models are presented on the Internet. Some of
these models are freely available, some are freely available for research purposes only and some are not
available at all (or available at a cost). Some model operators (notably meteorological institutes) make data
from their model runs commercially available. Typically the data are provided as now-casts and up to five-
day forecasts.
Of the operational numerical models that cover the North Sea only the UK Met Office Shelf-seas
model was considered to provide sufficiently accurate sea bottom temperature data for Gasscos needs.
Comparison of measured and modelled data concluded that the average total error between model and
measured data is slightly above 1 C. The Shelf-seas model performs best in the southern North Sea where
the water depths are less than 50 m and the temperature fluctuations are the largest. See Hendriks et al.
A link between the Shelf-seas model and Gasscos real time simulation software was implemented in
2006. This provides daily and direct access for the real time simulation software to now-casts and two-day
forecasts of the sea bottom temperature along all export pipelines. At the same time Gassco obtained
access to historically calculated now-casts for every single day since the Shelf-seas model was started in
The historically calculated now-casts are now used as input when simulating every historical
operational steady-state period. This gives a better estimate of the actual sea-bottom temperatures during
each steady-state period than the previously used tabulated statistical data. It hence represents an
improvement with respect to ambient temperature uncertainty, and gives a more accurate calculation of the
hydraulic roughness for the pipelines.
In Figure 5 the simulated roughness values for a set of steady-state periods are shown. After
implementation of modelled data from the Shelf-seas model, it is seen that the variation reduces
considerably. In this case the standard deviation is reduced from 0.49 m to 0.36 m. (26%).

2001-11-05 2002-01-24 2002-04-14 2002-07-03 2002-09-21 2002-12-10 2003-02-28 2003-05-19


Table averages
Daily grids

Figure 5: Calculated effective roughnesses in pipeline A, based on operational data from steady-state periods.
Blue diamonds represent up-to-date daily predictions for ambient temperature and pink squares are based on
old monthly tabulated averages.

In addition to the Shelf-seas model, historical averages from the World Ocean Atlas 2005 (WOA
2005) are compiled in grid files for use in the simulation software. One dataset is given for each month and is
valid for the middle of that month. Data for an arbitrary date is obtained by interpolating between the two
nearest months. These historical temperatures are the best available predictions of the future. A
conservative base case capacity is calculated for the pipelines using the roughness and employing WOA
2005 data for the warmest month in the year, usually October. This capacity is sold in booking rounds two
times a year on long-term, currently meaning up to 2028. In the same booking rounds, the shippers can book
monthly capacities on medium term which is two years ahead. On medium-term one takes advantage of the
seasonal temperature variation in the sea, which increases the capacity in the cold winter months when
natural gas demand and transport capacity demand peaks. In addition the operational flexibility is often
reduced from 2% to 1% on medium term. Short-term booking happens every Friday, where available and
additional capacity is offered on a daily basis five weeks ahead. Additional margins are exploited here.
Gassco plans to use the two-day temperature forecasts received from the Shelf-seas model to take
advantage of the daily variations in temperature and capacity, and include this in the short-term booking.
Additional capacity due to temperature effects included in medium-term and short-term booking amounts to
3-5 MSm
/d during winter. This temperature effect is well illustrated in Figure 6.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12



Low ambient temperature
Average ambient temperature
High ambient temperature
Capacity offered for sale [old situation]

Figure 6 Example hydraulic capacities for a pipeline influence by ambient temperature.
5 Heat Transfer for Partly Buried Pipes
Most of the Gassco operated sub-sea pipelines are partly buried on the sea-bottom. Originally they
are either laid directly on the sea-bottom such that sea-currents cause them to be partly buried in sand or
clay after a while, or they are trenched in order to achieve the desired stability. In both cases the heat
transfer takes place partly through the ground by conduction, and partly through the sea-water by conduction
and natural and forced convection.
Gersten et al. (2001) concludes that heat transfer to/from entirely buried pipes is well known,
provided the characteristic of the ground is known. Heat transfer to/from pipes entirely exposed to sea water
is also fairly well modelled. But none has focused on the intermediate situation where a combination of these
two effects takes place. Gersten et al. suggested a linear interpolation between these two effects. Later
Morud et al. (2007) presented an analytical model for this combined situation, and Morud et al. and Ramsen
et al. (2009) showed that the Morud model fit well with CFD simulations for different burial depths.
More detailed heat transfer coefficients obtained from this model have been used by Gassco for one
specific pipeline. Information about the burial depths from a recent survey of the entire pipeline was used in
the calculation of the coefficients. The capacity calculation of this pipeline has been checked based on this
updated model, and provides an example of how latest knowledge about all aspects of fluid mechanics shall
be used to improve the accuracy and reduce the margins in transport capacity calculation.
6 Uncertainty Calculations
The uncertainty of the calculated roughness for a capacity test period or a steady-state operational
period is calculated according to an established scheme.
First all parameters affecting the calculated roughness are identified. This includes metering signals
such as pressure, flow rate, gas temperature and gas composition and the ambient temperature estimate.
For the metering signals the standard deviation, , is calculated, which is an estimate of the parameters
repeatability. This is combined with the instruments stated uncertainty to find the total uncertainty of the
input parameter, )

X u .
The approach assumes that the roughness calculation is linear with respect to all input parameters,
which is a viable assumption close to the starting point. Furthermore it utilizes the fact that the variance of a
linear combination of stochastic variables, Z = aA+bB is given by:
) , ( 2 ) ( ) ( ) (
2 2
B A abCov B Var b A Var a Z Var + + =
Eq. 6
On a cold day
1.2 MSm/d extra can
be made available for
this pipeline
It is assumed that the input parameters uncertainty is uncorrelated, and the covariance term is
hence disregarded. For each of the parameters, the hydraulic roughness is calculated when the current
parameter take the value )

i i i
X u x x = , while the other parameters ( i) takes the average value. The
total uncertainty of the calculated hydraulic roughness, ) ( u , is then calculated by combining the
uncertainty contributions from the different parameters which can be simplified to:
( )

n i i n i i
x X u x x f x X u x x f u
1 1
) ),...,

( ,..., ( ) ),...,

( ,..., (
) ( Eq. 7
Typical uncertainty in the roughness calculation for a capacity test is around 0.5 m, which often
means an uncertainty in capacity of around 0.5 MSm
/d. For a steady-state operational period it is slightly
higher due to the imperfect steadiness. The flow meter uncertainty is the largest contributor to the
The uncertainty is comprised of random error (precision) and systematic error (accuracy) according
2 2 2
) ( ) ( ) ( accuracy precision u +
Eq. 8

When the estimation procedure implies averaging roughness across many periods, it can be shown
that the uncertainty contribution from precision decreases and eventually approaches zero.
What remains is the accuracy, which is a systematic error affecting each period equally. This cannot
be reduced by adding more steady-state periods. The standard deviation of the different roughness
calculations can be used as an estimate of the precision.
7 Summary and Perspectives
We have here shown how the transport capacity of both single-leg pipelines and networks may be
calculated in a very accurate manner. Following a well planned steady-state capacity test, systematic
analysis of operational data with high flow-rates, implementation and utilization of up-to-date modelled
ambient temperature and systematic improvement of all parts of the model equations and correlations all
contribute to this. It is also shown that this increased knowledge about the fluid dynamics in the pipelines has
revealed that the actual physical capacity is higher than previously committed, which obviously is of great
importance to all shippers and operators in the North Sea. The increased knowledge has resulted in an
increase in committable capacity of 4.6 MSm
/d on average with an additional 3-5 MSm3/d that can be
exploited on cold winter days.
Gassco is currently supporting a work to investigate the potential for improvement in the Shelf-seas
model. In particular one has seen that the deviation between measured and modelled outlet temperatures
strongly varies with season. The model predicted gas temperature is typically too low in the winter and too
high in the summer. Whether this is caused by the Shelf-seas model or other sources of uncertainty remains
to be analyzed.
The capacity calculation methodology can still be improved in some ways. The uncertainty analysis
for the steady-state operational data can be improved. The uncertainty contribution from the slight decrease
in steadiness in a period should be subject to further analyses.
[1] Gersten, K., Papenfuss, H.D., Kurschat, T.H., Genillon, P.H., Fernandez Perez, F., Revell, N.
(2001). Heat Transfer in Gas Pipelines, OIL GAS European Magazine, 1/2001.
[2] Hendriks, P.H.G.M., Postvoll, W., Mathiesen, M., Spiers, R.P., Siddorn, J. (2006). Improved
Capacity Utilization by Integrating Real-time Sea Bottom Temperature Data. Proceedings of the 2006
PSIG Conference, Williamsburg, Virginia, US.
[3] Langelandsvik, L.I., Kunkel, G.J., Smits, A.J.(2008). Flow in a commercial steel pipe. Journal of
Fluid Mechanics, Vol. 595, pp. 323-339.
[4] Langelandsvik, L.I. (2008). Modeling of natural gas transport and friction factor for large scale
pipelines Laboratory experiments and analysis of operational data. PhD dissertation, Norwegian
University of Science and Technology, 2008.
[5] Morud, J.C., Simonsen, A. (2007). Heat transfer from partially buried pipes. Proceedings of the 16

Australasian Fluid Mechanics Conference, Crown Plaza, Gold Coast, Australia, 2007.
[6] Ramsen, J., Losnegrd, S.E., Langelandsvik, L.I., Simonsen, A., Postvoll, W. (2009). Important
Aspects of Gas Temperature Modelling. Proceedings of the 2009 PSIG Conference, Galveston Texas,
[7] Shockling, M. A., Allen, J. J., Smits, A. J. (2006). Roughness effects in turbulent pipe flow. Journal
of Fluid Mechanics, Vol. 564, pp. 267-285.
[8] Uhl, A., Bischoff, K.B., Bukacek, R.F., Burket, P.V., Ellington, R.T., Kniebes, D.V., Staats, W.R.,
Worcester, D.A. (1965). Steady flow in gas pipelines. Institute of Gas Technology Technical report no.
10. American Gas Association.